by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:20 AM | Permalink
Know Theatre sets sail this weekend with tonight's opening of Moby Dick. It's Herman Melville's great American novel stripped down to its bare essentials of men at sea doing battle with a creature that maimed their obsessive captain. It's Know's first main stage show staged by new artistic director Andrew Hungerford, who's teamed with co-director Michael Burnham, retired from CCM but no doubt as inventive as ever in bringing unusual material to audiences. Featuring the haunting music of sea shanties and a stage full of theatricality, it being performed through Nov. 8. Tickets ($20 in advance): 513-300-5669. And here's a tip: Wednesday evening performances are free as part of Know's "Welcome Experiment," intended to bring new audiences to its Over-the-Rhine facility. UC's College-Conservatory of Music is presenting Willy Russell's powerful British musical Blood Brothers today and tomorrow in the Cohen Family StudioTheater. Set in 1950s Liverpool, it's about a woman with too many children who is talked into giving up one of a pair of newborn fraternal twins. Despite her efforts and those of the unstable woman who wanted a baby, the boys meet and become not just friends but "blood brothers." They don't know their history, they simply feel drawn to one another. That leads to a tragic, perhaps inevitable, confrontation. But there is humor and an energetic Pop Rock score along the way. Hannah Kornfeld is heartbreaking as the conflicted mother; Thomas Knapp and Karl Amundson turn in heart-breaking performances as the ill-fated boys, from age 7 to 22. This weekend only; the final performance is Saturday evening at 8 p.m. Tickets are free but need to be reserved (513-556-4183); call in advance — performances are often sold out.
Perhaps you'd like to take a kid or two to see a show. The Cincinnati Playhouse's "Off the Hill" production, Roses & Thorns, based on "Beauty and the Beast," would be a fine choice. It's a touring production for kids ages 7 and up, and it's making its way to various neighborhoods over the next month or so (through Nov. 2). I attended a preview recently and found it thoroughly enjoyable. It's a sweet retelling of the familiar story whose love and devotion saves her family and breaks a curse on a monstrous beast who's really a handsome prince. The show uses clever props and costumes, slapstick, satire and high camp styles; its four actors are professionals in training, and their work, playing multiple characters and making quick changes, is great fun to watch. This weekend it's onstage at the Lebanon Theatre Company (10 S. Mechanic St., Lebanon) on Sunday at 2 p.m. Check the Playhouse's website for future performances around the Tristate. Tickets in Lebanon are $5: 513-228-0932
If you missed Kevin Crowley's one-woman show Sarge during the Cincinnati Fringe Festival last June, it's getting a reprise this weekend and next (it's onstage tonight through Oct. 20). Christine Dye's performance as the devoted but deluded wife of Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, found guilty of molesting young boys, won the Critics Pick of the Fringe. Dye is remarkable in three monologues that reveal the mind of a woman who cannot accept her husband's true nature. It's being presented in a double bill with another short script by local actor and playwright Crowley, The Monkey's Paw, a dark comedy about a couple struggling with the anxieties of early parenthood. Performances at Clifton Performance Theater, 404 Ludlow Avenue. Tickets ($25): 513-861-7469
I gave Critic's Picks in CityBeat recently to two excellent productions recently, and they remain onstage this weekend. I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti at the Cincinnati Playhouse is a one-woman piece about cooking and relationships (charming actress Antoinette LaVecchia prepares an Italian dinner while describing her bad luck with men). Tickets ($30-$75): 513-421-3888 … The Little Dog Laughed finishes its run this weekend at New Edgecliff Theater at Hoffner Hall (4120 Hamilton, Ave., Northside. It's the story of a gay actor whose agent is trying to keep him from ruining his career by being public about his persuasion. It's surprising how a play from 2007 could present anxieties about something that today is much more accepted, but this production is great fun to watch thanks to four fine actors, especially Kemper Florin as the motor-mouthed, scheming agent. Tickets: ($20-$27): 888-428-7311
Playhouse serves up a tasty show about boyfriends and cooking
0 Comments · Friday, October 3, 2014
The show’s gimmick is that it’s set in a working kitchen where LaVecchia
prepares an aromatic three-course Italian meal while animatedly
describing her romantic adventures, starting at age 16 and continuing
into her 40s.
Covedale Center stages a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic
0 Comments · Monday, September 15, 2014
It is a wonderful risk any time a theatre company takes on a classic like Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.
It is an especially wonderful risk for actors who go up against our
collective or personal expectations of what their performances should
The play’s afoot: Sherlock is still kicking at the Playhouse
0 Comments · Monday, September 15, 2014
I believe Hatcher’s
script and the Playhouse’s production will satisfy fans of Holmes, but a much
broader audience will appreciate the show’s theatrical production.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 10:09 AM | Permalink
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of
the Suicide Club opened last night at the Cincinnati
Playhouse in the Park. It's a new adventure for the Victorian sleuth. How can
that be, you might ask, if you're a Sherlock fan — this isn't a familiar title.
That's because playwright Jeffrey Hatcher picked up Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's
memorable detective, a master of deductive observation, and plugged him into a
tale of mystery and intrigue conceived by Robert Louis Stevenson back in 1878.
No spoilers here, but I will tell you that the plot of this show requires
closely following a complex tale of both personal and political intrigue.
Hatcher has set the story in 1914, on the brink of the first World War, and the
state of international relations in Europe is woven into the tale. But there's
nothing dry about this story, and Steven Hauck's performance as Sherlock is
very satisfying: He brings a quirky physicality as well as a sharp wit to the
character that makes him very engaging. Fans of Sherlock will not be disappointed
by this show. Through Oct. 4. Tickets ($30-$85): 513-421-3888.
I attended the opening of The Great Gatsby at
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company last week. In my review, I said, "the production gets the story and the era
right," and I added that CSC's Justin McCombs "perfectly
embodies" Nick Carraway, the honest narrator of this Jazz Age tale of
nouveau riche Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, the one-time debutante who
obsesses him. There's lots to like about this production, which captures the
essence of lavish parties and the fast life of the Roaring Twenties. Cincy
Shakes is committed to bringing classic literary works to the stage, and this
production is a good example of how they get it done. Simon Levy's script hews
close to F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1924 novel, and the company's actors bring life
to the characters. Through Oct. 4. Tickets ($22-$36): 513-381-2273.
Everyone I've talked to about Hands on a Hardbody
at Ensemble Theatre has been enthusiastic about the show that brings to life a contest to win a
Nissan pickup truck by keeping one hand on it the longest. It's a true story
(it was a 1997 documentary) and these feel like real people, down on their luck
but dreaming what a difference that winning could make. The music is by Trey
Anastasio (of Phish) and Amanda Green, and the script was written by Pulitzer
Prize winner Doug Wright. ETC has staged memorable productions of his play I
Am My Own Wife and his musical, Grey Gardens. But the real
attraction is an excellent cast who make you believe in these people,
struggling to stay away and outlast one another under the brutal sun beating
down on the Texas parking lot of a Nissan dealership. It's a fine entertainment.
Through Sept. 21. Tickets ($28-$44): 513-421-3555.
Just opened at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts
is a production of Tennessee Williams's great American play, A Streetcar
Named Desire. It's about a woman who's down on her luck but unwilling
to admit it. When genteel Blanche DuBois moves with her pragmatic sister and
her brutal, blue-collar husband, Stanley Kowalski, is a rude awakening that
goes downhill fast. Through Oct. 5. Tickets ($-$): 513-241-6550.
If you've become a fan of shows in the intimate Clifton
Performance Theatre, you might want to check out The Riverside, a
play written and directed by local theater artist Kevin Crowley. It's a story
set in a Cincinnati bar in 1989 as locals follow the saga of Pete Rose's demise
in baseball, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Tiananmen Square. But the bar
itself is changing, too, impacting the lives of the family that owns it as well
as its patrons.Through Sept. 27. Tickets ($25): https://cpt.tixato.com/buy/.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 01:10 PM | Permalink
If you'd like to go to the theater every evening for the
next four days, there are plenty of options for you to consider as the
2014-2015 season is getting underway on stages all over town. Here are
some good choices to consider:
Hands on a Hardbody opened on Wednesday at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, and CityBeat reviewer Stacy Sims called it "effervescent" and "offbeat" in her review,
giving it a Critic's Pick. I was there, too, and couldn't agree more
about the infectious, heartfelt joy coming from the big cast of 15. The
show is based on a true story (the subject of a 1997 documentary) about
people in a downtrodden Texas town who enter a contest to win a Nissan
pickup truck by outlasting others who vow to keep one hand on the
vehicle. The cherry-red truck is as much a character as any of the
contestants, the physical embodiment of their hopes and dreams — which
take the form of songs by Trey Anastasio (of Phish) and Amanda Green.
The script by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright treats these diverse,
down-on-their-luck folks with dignity, and the performers (who often
perform with the truck as their dance partner) bring every one of them
to life in vivid ways. This one is a must-see, a great way to kick-off
ETC's theater season. Through Sept. 21. Tickets ($28-$44): 513-421-3555
The Great Gatsby kicks off Cincinnati
Shakespeare Company's season tonight. You didn't know Shakespeare wrote
it? Well, he didn't. This theater company focuses on the Bard, to be
sure, but it frequently branches out to present stage versions of other
classics, in this case an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925
classic about a mysterious nouveau-riche millionaire who's obsessed with
a one-time debutante. Set in the Jazz Age and inspired by lavish
parties the high-flying Fitzgerald attended on the prosperous North
Shore of Long Island, Gatsby is a story about the ups and downs
of the American Dream. Simon Levy's script is the only one authorized by
Fitzgerald's estate, and Cincy Shakes is presenting its regional
premiere. (And here's a tip: on opening nights at 6 p.m., the theater
offers ticket holders a complimentary catered meal, beer and wine.)
Through Oct. 4. Tickets ($22-$36): 513-381-2273
Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club
opens next Thursday at the Cincinnati Playhouse, but previews begin for
the season opener this Saturday (through Wednesday). Tickets for these
performances are discounted, and you'll be seeing a show that's pretty
much ready to go. Jeffrey Hatcher's script should be lots of fun for
fans of the Victorian sleuth. He's taken the character created by Sir
Arthur Conan Doyle and dropped him into a tale conceived by another
inventive writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, for a mash-up that will keep
even Baker Street regulars guessing. Tickets: 513-421-3888
Serials! at Know Theatre, which has
presented episodes of six Fringe-like shows at two-week intervals all
summer long, culminates on Monday evening at 8 p.m. with finales of each
tale. Who will win the ultimate fist fight with the Devil in Flesh Descending? How long can Luke really stay in his bedroom during The Funeral? Will we ever find out what's really happening in Mars vs. The Atom?
These questions and more will be answered on Monday. Even if you've
missed a few episodes, don't worry: Each 15-minute performance begins
with a brief recap of the story so far. Zany and fun for anyone who's
enjoyed the annual Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Tickets ($15): 513-300-5669
Finally, a tip for an eye-opening theater experience next weekend: On Sunday, Sept. 14, the Cincinnati area's first-ever South Asian Theater Festival happens
in an all-day event at the Anderson Theater (7850 Five Mile Rd.). Five
plays are scheduled to be presented, as well as panel discussions, seven
hours of programming in all. The day begins at 12:30 p.m. and is set to
conclude around 8 p.m. A limited number of tickets remain ($19-$29): SATFCincy.org
Ensemble Theatre brings an effervescent and offbeat new musical to Cincinnati
0 Comments · Friday, September 5, 2014
Ensemble Theatre's shows have been selling well these last many seasons, so you might have to
scramble to get tickets for Hands on a Hardbody — but the effort will surely
be worth it.
Cincinnati's artsy Tin Man gets a heart, plus art, theater, dance, music and film picks
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 20, 2014
A giant robot will soon be descending on the city.
Metrobot, the interactive aluminum sculpture by Nam June Paik, once
greeted visitors outside the Contemporary Arts Center’s former space at
Fifth and Walnut streets downtown.
by Rick Pender
Posted In: Theater
at 08:12 AM | Permalink
Cincinnati stages were pretty quiet over
the Independence Day weekend, but this week they start waking up and
getting ready for more. Tonight at 8 p.m. is the second installment of Serials!
at Know Theatre. You can see six fresh, 10-minute episodes of brand-new
plays by local playwrights — Trey Tatum, Chris Wesselman, Jon Kovach,
Ben Dudley, Michael Hall and the team of Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth
Martin — and featuring lots of Cincinnati-area actors. New artistic
director Andrew Hungerford calls it a "theater party" offering cold
beer, air-conditioning and world-premiere stories in Know's Underground
bar (1120 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine). Even if you missed the "pilots"
on June 23, you'll get caught up with a recap before each episode. I had
a blast watching these tantalizing tidbits two weeks ago, and I suspect
tickets will become harder to get as the summer progresses. (Subsequent
performances on July 21, Aug. 11 and 25 and Sept. 8.) Tickets ($15): 513-300-5669.
Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati is assembling a cast for its season opener, Hands on a Hardbody (Sept. 3-21),
a recent Tony-nominated musical about 10 people vying to win a truck by
outlasting their competitors and keeping their hands touching the
vehicle — which will be onstage at the Over-the-Rhine theater (1127 Vine
St.). ETC is seeking actors, singers and dancers for the show with an
open audition on Wednesday this week (July 9, 5-8 p.m.). All are welcome, but an appointment is required. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org) Ensemble Theatre is an AEA Theatre. Union and non-union actors are encouraged to apply. Rehearsals begin August 11. ETC is seeking a diverse cast, and all ethnicities are encouraged to apply, especially African-American men and Hispanic males and females.
ETC had a big hit on its hands three years ago with the Tony Award-winning musical next to normal
about a woman with bipolar disorder. In fact it was such a draw that
they revived it in the summer of 2012. Although the Rock musical is a
challenging work, this week features not one but two productions by
Cincinnati-area community theaters: Sunset Players on the West Side and
Paradise Players on the East Side. Both productions open Friday
evening. The venerable Sunset Players, which presents shows at the
Dunham Arts Center (in the Dunham Recreation Complex, 4320 Guerley Rd.,
Price Hill), has performances through July 26, mostly at 8 p.m. (July 20 is a 2 p.m. matinee.) Tickets ($14-$16): 513-588-4988.
Meanwhile, Paradise Players, a newish group offering summer productions
at McNicholas High School's Jeanne Spurlock Theatre (6536 Beechmont
Ave.), will offer the show just this week, July 10-11 (7:30 p.m.) and July 12 (2:30 and 7:30 p.m.). Tickets: $15 (http://mcnhs.seatyourself.biz)
high schoolers now have Commonwealth Artists Summer Theatre (C.A.S.T.)
as a summer outlet for theatrical opportunities at Highlands High School
(2400 Memorial Pkwy., Fort Thomas). Starting Friday is a two-week run (July 11-20) of The Addams Family,
a Broadway musical based on the bizarre and beloved family of
characters created by cartoonist Charles Addams. C.A.S.T., headed by
Fort Thomas Independent Schools' theater instructor Jason Burgess,
enables kids from the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky to
develop their skills in performance and production beyond their school
year and beyond their school population. Tickets: $10 (http://www.showtix4u.com) or at the door.